Cannery Row | Study Guide

John Steinbeck

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Cannery Row | Chapter 29 | Summary

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Summary

Doc finishes work on October 27 and cleans up. He doesn't know when people will arrive for the party, so he has a few drinks while listening to music on his phonograph. He is feeling mellow and a little emotional. The rest of the city is awaiting the start of the party too. Mack suggests they begin around 8 P.M., so he and the boys have a few drinks while they wait. Dora and her girls "fortify" themselves with pints of alcohol as they watch Doc's place through the window.

Analysis

Everyone is Cannery Row is anticipating the start of the party. The preparations from earlier chapters are complete, and now all that is left is for someone to make the first move and show up at the lab. People are drinking beforehand in order to loosen up so they will enjoy the party more when it finally begins. Doc has multiple drinks as he awaits the start of the party, and he begins to feel sentimental. Dora and the girls at the Bear Flag have a slightly different motive for drinking, which is to "fortify" themselves for the party. The level of anticipation and anxiety about the start of the party suggests it is the biggest event Cannery Row has seen in a long time. All the drinking may remind readers of the earlier attempt at a party when Mack and the boys drank the entire jug of whiskey before Doc arrived. This time, Doc is drunk before the party begins, so readers can make their own assumptions about how the night will go.

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